Exposition of Daniel 10:15-11:1 An angelic warrior speaks

Daniel 10:15–11:1

15 While he was saying this to me, I bowed with my face toward the ground and was speechless. 16 Then one who looked like a man touched my lips, and I opened my mouth and began to speak. I said to the one standing before me, “I am overcome with anguish because of the vision, my lord, and I feel very weak. 17 How can I, your servant, talk with you, my lord? My strength is gone and I can hardly breathe.”

18 Again the one who looked like a man touched me and gave me strength. 19 “Do not be afraid, you who are highly esteemed,” he said. “Peace! Be strong now; be strong.” When he spoke to me, I was strengthened and said, “Speak, my lord, since you have given me strength.”

20 So he said, “Do you know why I have come to you? Soon I will return to fight against the prince of Persia, and when I go, the prince of Greece will come; 21 but first I will tell you what is written in the Book of Truth. (No one supports me against them except Michael, your prince.

1 And in the first year of Darius the Mede, I took my stand to support and protect him.)

An angelic warrior speaks

When we consider Daniel’s age, his long fast, and the overwhelming nature of his encounter with the Messiah, it is not surprising that he has difficulty even standing before the angelic messenger, much less learning what the angel has come to reveal (verse 15). Even though NIV has Daniel saying that he suffers “with anguish because of the vision” (verse 16), the underlying Hebrew noun is used most frequently for labor pains, which any mother will attest are worse than mere anguish!

Note that the angel, who had the appearance of a man, was able to strengthen Daniel with a touch (verse 18). This is exactly what we pray for in relation to others who are suffering or in distress, and this is how God may answer if he is willing.

It is astonishing that this powerful angel left his ongoing battle with “the spirit prince of the kingdom of Persia” (verse 20, NLT) to inform Daniel about the future of his people and Jerusalem. Perhaps this glimpse of angelic war indicated to Daniel why the Jews who went to Jerusalem were still suffering opposition. Their enemies were not just human ones. [Neither are ours!]

Miller points out that this spiritual struggle of angels against demons would continue for over two centuries of Persian rule (539–331 B.C.) and adds: “This struggle involved all of the decisions and relationships pertaining to the Jews during the Persian period (e.g., the reconstruction of the temple, deliverance of the Jews during the time of Esther, permission for Ezra and Nehemiah to return, and their subsequent construction of the city).”[1]

When that long battle ends with the fall of Persia, it will be replaced by a new one when “the spirit prince of the kingdom of Greece will come” (verse 20b, NLT). Of course, Daniel already knows that the Persian kingdom will be replaced by a Greek kingdom because he was explicitly told that in a previous vision (Dan. 8:21). But he had not known until this moment that the ferocity of the Greek king would be inspired by a powerful demon. The participation of the angelic warrior against the coming Grecian kingdom will prove all too necessary as the detailed prophecies of chapter 11 will show. The Jews will face many threats during the period of Greek dominance, especially during the rule of Antiochus IV.

Before returning to the angelic battle, the warrior-angel carries out the strategic mission of revealing to Daniel additional details concerning the future of the Jews and Jerusalem (presented in chapters 11–12). What he reveals is trustworthy because it is recorded in a reliable record (“the Book of Truth,” NIV for verse 21a) to which the angel has access.

Before presenting details about events to come, the warrior-angel returns to a description of the forces Yahweh has deployed to defend the Jews. In the fight against the spirit princes of Persia and Greece, the warrior-angel has but one ally, “Michael, your prince” (verse 21b). Both here and in Dan. 12:1 we find that Michael is a powerful angel specially charged with defending the Jews against Satanic attack. They both worked together in the crucial first year of Darius the Mede, also known as Cyrus (verse 11:1). Wood says, “Thus it comes to be known that Cyrus’s decision to let the Jews go had been accomplished by God working through these two high angels.”[2]

A strategic briefing

Human interest in angels has always been intense, but it has sometimes been guided more by speculation than by revelation. Paul warns us that “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Eph. 6:12).

It is apparent that how nations treat the Jews is a great concern to Yahweh. That being the case, we would project that considerable angelic power is brought to bear on the United States, which is the home of almost as many Jews as the nation of Israel. Further, it is plain in the Bible that anti-Semitism is displeasing to God; those who engage in it are giving aid to the enemy. This does not mean that we must condone every act of the Israeli government or Jews in general. God is well able to discipline those who need it without our help.

We are caught up in a long war between God’s holy angels and those angels who followed Satan in rebellion.  Revelation 12:7 informs us of war in heaven itself, when Michael led the angelic forces that defeated Satan and cast him and his angels down to the earth (Rev. 12:7–9). This is not some remote problem because Satan acts “to wage war against … those who keep God’s commands and hold fast their testimony about Jesus” (Rev. 12:17).

Christians gather in groups to learn and to pray and to show love not just as a matter of tradition, but for mutual protection! We are stronger for Christ together than we are separately. The Lord fights for us and gives us this promise:

Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:38–39

Copyright © 2015 Barry Applewhite, Plano, Texas. All rights reserved worldwide. Derived from materials created for Christ Fellowship, McKinney, Texas. Used by permission.

[1] Miller, Daniel, 288.

[2] Wood, Daniel, 279.

Exposition of Revelation: Revelation 22:6-9

Revelation 22:69

Then the angel said to me, These words are reliable and true. The Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, has sent his angel to show his servants what must happen soon.
7 (Look! I am coming soon! Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy expressed in this book.)
I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things, and when I heard and saw them, I threw myself down to worship at the feet of the angel who was showing them to me. 9 But he said to me, Do not do this! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers the prophets, and with those who obey the words of this book. Worship God!
(NET Bible)

Spoiler alert

One of the big principles in American law is giving notice. The idea is that you are given adequate knowledge in advance of a needed response or decision you must make. Generally, this advance knowledge and your required actions must be put into writing.

Through John and the angels, God is putting us on notice that obedience and perseverance are required in response to the disclosures God is making to us through his agents. What will you do with the holy summons?

If you analyze this biblical text for frequency, words occurs three times, and the combination prophets-prophecy-prophets also grabs attention. When you combine that knowledge with the statement from Jesus in 22:7 — Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy expressed in this book — you have to realize that obedience to the challenge to overcome is a crucial theme in Revelation.

Greg Beale[1] says that the purpose of Revelation is to induce obedience among Gods people and supports his statement by pointing out that eight of the final fifteen verses exhort or warn toward that goal. This general theme is stated a little differently by Grant Osborne[2], who says that perseverance is the primary theme of the book.

When Jesus says that the one who obeys is blessed (22:7), the previous context describing the splendor of the New Jerusalem fills that word with substance that had not previously been revealed.

John again puts considerable emphasis on his own eyewitness testimony (22:8). These visions and words are not idle thoughts or a creation of Johns own mind, and he makes that very clear to his readers.

Understandably, John is once again overcome by what he has seen and heard, and he falls down to worship the angel (22:8). The angel rebukes John in a manner virtually identical to 19:10. Explaining Johns lapse, Osborne[3] says that the two almost identical incidents serve as bookends for the material from 19:11 to 22:5, which includes the end of the former age and the creation of the new heaven and earth. The angel again stresses to John the equality of angels with the saints and prophets who all serve God. Note the particular emphasis on those who obey the words of this book (22:9).

The angels words Worship God! (22:9) do not in this context mean to sing praise songs or any of the other activities normally associated with corporate worship. Instead they mean to worship God by persevering and staying in readiness for the any-moment return of Christ.

To be or not to be?

Osborne[4] makes the telling point that every passage in the NT on the imminent return of Jesus ends with a demand to walk worthily of the Lord because he is coming soon.

The thing is, in an hour from this moment your decisive interview with Jesus may be over!

Copyright 2011 by Barry Applewhite, Plano, Texas. All rights reserved worldwide. Derived from material created for Christ Fellowship, McKinney, Texas. Used by permission.


[1] G.K. Beale, The Book of Revelation, The New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1999) 1122.

[2] Grant R. Osborne, Revelation, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2002) 782-783.

[3] Osborne, Revelation, 784.

[4] Osborne, Revelation, 783.

Exposition of Revelation: Revelation 20:1-3

Revelation 20:1-3

Then I saw an angel descending from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the abyss and a huge chain. 2 He seized the dragon the ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan and tied him up for a thousand years. 3 The angel then threw him into the abyss and locked and sealed it so that he could not deceive the nations until the one thousand years were finished. (After these things he must be released for a brief period of time.)
(NET Bible)

The Millennium

There comes a point where you have to decide: is Jesus really Lord of all? Some live as if he only rules spiritual matters; others discount him altogether.

In a skeptical age, go all-in with Jesus! He is the All-Powerful Lord who will really return, really hurl Satan into the lake of fire, and really deliver you into a tangible eternity of joy!

NT commentators are agreed that Revelation 20 is the most debated chapter of all, and this debate hinges on the timing of Christs return in relation to a period of time known as the Millennium. The word millennium is borrowed from Latin into English, and it means a thousand years.

This post reflects my view that Jesus will physically return prior to the Millennium to establish a literal rule of righteousness upon the earth for a period lasting an actual one thousand years. For those familiar with the language, that is a premillennial position because Jesus returns before the Millennium. The earliest church fathers also held premillennial views.[1]

This phrase a thousand years is important because it occurs six times in Revelation 2-7 as a translation of the Greek phrase tachilia ete(a thousand years). What happens during this period of one thousand years? First, Satan will be bound securely in the abyss so that he cannot deceive the nations (20:3). Second, Christ will rule the nations of the world along with those who have believed in him, both living and resurrected (20:4). Third, the unbelieving dead will remain in Hades until the Millennium ends and final judgment occurs (20:5).

Recall that the military opposition to Christs return and the rulers leading that resistance were utterly destroyed (19:21). So, whom does Jesus rule? He rules the billions of largely unbelieving people who did not gather at Armageddon with those who were destroyed.[2] Jesus will not destroy the nations at Armageddon but rather the military forces gathered there in armed resistance.

Revelation 20:1-10 breaks into three parts: before the Millennium (verses 1-3), during the Millennium (verses 4-6), and after the Millennium (verses 7-10). Our passage for today shows how Satan will be securely confined for the thousand years during which Jesus will rule the world. We will elaborate on that rule in the next post.

If you expect some furious battle when the angel comes to seize and confine Satan, then you will be surprised. Satan is in no way equal to God in power, so the angel holding the key and the chain will have no difficulty securing the prisoner in the abyss (19:2-3).

You probably realize that the many views on this chapter arise from various assumptions made about which elements are literal and which symbolic. I have already revealed that I generally take the elements as literal. So, I conclude John saw an actual angel holding a real key and chain. The angel will confine Satan in a real place where he has no direct influence over humanity. Of his eventual and temporary release at the end of the age (19:3b), I will explain that another day.

Satans days are numbered

Though Satan will be bound after Christ returns, for now he remains at large as a desperate threat. If you do not take his existence seriously, then you may find yourself deceived by a world he covertly rules (1 Pet. 5:8). But the ease of Satans future capture should give you a jolt.

Never forget that even Jesus was tempted by Satan over an extended period (Matthew 4) and then later (Luke 22:39-46). You too will be tempted, but one day all temptation will end forever!

Copyright 2011 by Barry Applewhite, Plano, Texas. All rights reserved worldwide. Derived from material developed for Christ Fellowship, McKinney, Texas. Used by permission.


[1] Craig S. Keener, Revelation, The NIV Application Commentary (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2000) 470.

[2] Grant R. Osborne, Revelation, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2002) 703.

Exposition of Revelation: Revelation 15:1–4

Revelation 15:1–4
Then I saw another great and astounding sign in heaven: seven angels who have seven final plagues (they are final because in them God’s anger is completed).
2 Then I saw something like a sea of glass mixed with fire, and those who had conquered the beast and his image and the number of his name. They were standing by the sea of glass, holding harps given to them by God. 3 They sang the song of Moses the servant of God and the song of the Lamb: “Great and astounding are your deeds, Lord God, the All-Powerful! Just and true are your ways, King over the nations! 4 Who will not fear you, O Lord, and glorify your name, because you alone are holy? All nations will come and worship before you for your righteous acts have been revealed.”
(NET Bible)

The demonstration of righteousness is just beginning!

I was never fond of getting a spanking, and my guess is that some of you feel the same way. Such experiences, however, may cloud our emotions in relation to understanding and accepting God’s acts of judgment. The conquering saints pour out praise to God for his “righteous acts” (15:4), which are his acts of crushing judgment against his enemies.

Why do we not respond with worship and praise when God judges rebellion? Have we been so blinded by contemporary culture that we think we can sit in judgment of God?

Revelation 15:1 serves as a summary for the whole of 15:1–16:21.[1] The avenging angels do not enter the scene until 15:8, and the bowls of judgment do not start until 16:1 (my next post).

When John says, “I saw something like a sea of glass mixed with fire” (15:2), try to imagine the flickering of flames within the crystal before the throne of God — an ominous symbol of what is coming!

Grant Osborne describes the song sung by the conquering saints (15:3b–4): “The whole celebrates the saving deeds of God and the worship that results from it. No details of victorious deeds are mentioned here because they have been recounted in chapter 14. . . . To the wonder of his judgments in line one [15:3b] is added the justice and truth behind those judgments in line two [15:3b].”[2]

The second part of the song (15:4) emphasizes both God’s holiness and the theme of the nations coming to Zion to worship God (Isa. 2:2–4; 45:23; 60:1–3; Jer. 16:19; Zech. 8:20–23; Rev. 15:4; 21:24, 26). Osborne ably summarizes the latter theme: “For the OT the coming of the nations to Zion was final proof of the glory and might of Yahweh [God], and this theme is central to the Apocalypse as well. Of course, this does not imply universalism [universal salvation] for most among the nations will refuse to repent (Rev. 9:20–21; 16:9, 11).”[3]

John next sees seven angels, dressed as priests, emerging from the temple “holding the seven plagues” (15:6, NLT), which they have clearly received from God. The word translated “plague” can refer to a blow which one receives (Luke 10:30; 12:48) or to the figurative extension of that idea: “a sudden calamity that causes severe distress . . . plague.”[4] The latter meaning is the one used in the Book of Revelation.

Next, the seven angels each receive a golden bowl from one of the four living creatures, and the bowl is filled with God’s wrath (15:7). Any ruler could be wrathful and yet his enemies could always hope he will die before inflicting harm, but those who oppose “God who lives forever and ever” (15:7) have no such hope! They can run, but not forever.

John’s final glimpse shows a temple so filled with God’s glory and power that no one can enter it[5] (15:8). No one dares to try!

We must get our heads straight!

Those whom God struck in Revelation 8, 9, and 14 have not only rebelled against God, but they have also killed multitudes of Christians in obedience to the commands of the beast. By judging them, God vindicates his own reputation for holiness and justice and he vindicates the obedient behavior of the believers who have fallen before the rage of the beast. When God behaves in a manner consistent with his character, we should each stand up and shout praise, because that means God will also do for us just what he promised in Christ.

Osborne tells us, “The righteous justice of God in judging his enemies is a time for joy, not sorrow.”[6] After recovering from his own severe experience of God’s judgment, the mighty Babylonian ruler Nebuchadnezzar (634 – 562 B.C.) said: “Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, for all his deeds are right and his ways are just” (Dan. 4:37). He got the point!

Copyright © 2011 by Barry Applewhite. All rights reserved worldwide. Derived from material created for Christ Fellowship, McKinney, Texas. Used by permission.

[1] Grant R. Osborne, Revelation, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2002) 560.

[2] Osborne, Revelation, 564-565.

[3] Osborne, Revelation, 568.

[4] BDAG-3, pl?g?, plague, q.v.

[5] Similar incidents may be found in Exod. 40:34–35; 1 Kings 8:10–12; Isa. 6:1–4 and Ezek. 10:2–4..

[6] Osborne, Revelation, 574.

Exposition of Revelation: Revelation 12:3-9

Revelation 12:3-9

Then another sign appeared in heaven: a huge red dragon that had seven heads and ten horns, and on its heads were seven diadem crowns. 4 Now the dragon’s tail swept away a third of the stars in heaven and hurled them to the earth. Then the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that he might devour her child as soon as it was born.
So the woman gave birth to a son, a male child, who is going to rule over all the nations with an iron rod. Her child was suddenly caught up to God and to his throne, 6 and she fled into the wilderness where a place had been prepared for her by God, so she could be taken care of for 1,260 days.
Then war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. 8 But the dragon was not strong enough to prevail, so there was no longer any place left in heaven for him and his angels. 9 So that huge dragon the ancient serpent, the one called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world was thrown down to the earth, and his angels along with him.
(NET Bible)

War in heaven!

As a boy I learned my stellar constellations early. My favorites were Orion in winter — because of its bright supergiants named Rigel and Betelgeuse — and the summer constellation Sagittarius, which looks like a teapot and contains the galactic core of the Milky Way with its vast black hole.

I was also familiar with another constellation near the Big Dipper. It winds sinuously and dimly between the Big and Little Dippers and bears the name Draco, Latin for Dragon. In our brightly lit urban skies, you can hardly see it, but its namesake is our ancient enemy, the Dragon. He is more commonly called Satan.

Greg Beale[1] explains that chapter 12 is the start of most of Revelations remaining visions. It reveals that Satan is the driving force behind the persecution of the saints as well as being the one behind the beast, the false prophet and the whore named Babylon.

By now you know that no group of symbol-interpretations meets with universal acceptance, and most of the dispute falls on the identity of the woman (12:1-2). Craig Keener says: The woman represents Israel or the faithful remnant of Israel. . . . Scholars have found here hints of the story of Eve. God had promised that this womans seed [Jesus, the Messiah] would ultimately crush the serpent (Gen. 3:15), a promise surely echoed in Revelation 12:9, 17.[2] That identification seems correct to me.

We need not guess the identity of the dragon because John expressly identifies him in 12:9 as the ancient serpent, the one called the devil and Satan. Grant Osborne[3] explains that the dragon was a familiar symbol in every ancient culture; indeed, the dragon was a symbol closely associated with demonic powers throughout the ancient world.

Osborne[4] also interprets the seven heads and ten horns (12:3) by using the ancient idea that horns symbolized strength, especially military strength. He connects this section with 17:12-14 where the ten horns are explicitly identified as ten kings who give their authority to the beast.

Before trying to destroy the newborn Christ, Satan first led a revolt in heaven, described symbolically in 12:4. Keener says: Jewish people recognized that Satans revolt had long ago led to the fall of many angels (often associated with Gen. 6:2), a view supported by 1 Peter 3:19-22, 2 Peter 2:4.[5] The rebel Satan and his angelic allies attempt to destroy Jesus at birth (12:4). This may refer to King Herods attempt to find and kill the infant Messiah (Matt. 2) by using the wise men to locate him.

In an apparent reference to Jesus resurrection, John speaks of Jesus being caught up to God and to his throne (12:5) by using the forceful Greek verb harpaz? (snatch away).[6]

Rev. 12:6 informs us that a remnant of Israel — others say it is the church — will be preserved in some fashion for the 1260 days (42 months). This would appear to be the same period of time identified for the two witnesses (11:3) to speak out.

By any measure, Rev. 12:7 is one of the more astonishing statements in the Bible: Then war broke out in heaven. While the prior verses dealt largely with events on the earth, next we have an expansion of the idea broached in 12:4: Now the dragons tail swept away a third of the stars in heaven and hurled them to the earth. Keener[7] informs us that in Revelation stars usually symbolize angels. When Satan rebelled, he took allies down with him.

A more literal translation of 12:8 would be: No longer was any place found for them [i.e., the dragon and his angels] in heaven. This is a divine passive! God found no place for Satan and his angels in heaven. The NLT aptly paraphrases, And the dragon lost the battle, and he and his angels were forced out of heaven (12:8, NLT).

Keener points out: Satans being hurled to the earth ends his position of privilege in Gods court. Ironically, Satans loss of place ([Greek] topos, 12:8) contrasts starkly with the place (topos) of refuge God provides his own people persecuted by Satan (12:6, 14).[8]

How goes the war?

No, I am not talking about Afghanistan or Iraq; nor do I speak of the dozens of smaller wars now occurring world-wide. Satan has waged total war against God, his people, and you personally from the beginning. Jesus said this about Satan: He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not uphold the truth, because there is no truth in him. Whenever he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, because he is a liar and the father of lies. (John 8:44).

Remember what Jesus said for our benefit: I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In the world you have trouble and suffering, but take courage I have conquered the world. (John 16:33).

Copyright 2011 by Barry Applewhite, Plano, Texas. All rights reserved worldwide. Derived from material created for Christ Fellowship, McKinney, Texas. Used by permission.


[1] G.K. Beale, The Book of Revelation, The New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1999) 622-623.

[2] Craig S. Keener, Revelation, The NIV Application Commentary (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2000) 314-315.

[3] Grant R. Osborne, Revelation, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2002) 458.

[4] Osborne, Revelation, 460.

[5] Keener, Revelation, 317-318.

[6] This same verb is used in 1 Thess. 4:17 to refer to the believers who will be suddenly caught up together with them [the dead in Christ, who rise first] in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.

[7] Keener, Revelation, 317.

[8] Keener, Revelation, 321.

Exposition of Revelation: Revelation 9:15–16, 9:20–21

Revelation 9:15–16
Then the four angels who had been prepared for this hour, day, month, and year were set free to kill a third of humanity. 16 The number of soldiers on horseback was two hundred million; I heard their number.
Revelation 9:20–21
The rest of humanity, who had not been killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, so that they did not stop worshiping demons and idols made of gold, silver, bronze, stone, and wood – idols that cannot see or hear or walk about. 21 Furthermore, they did not repent of their murders, of their magic spells, of their sexual immorality, or of their stealing.(NET Bible)

The sixth angel

Denial is a regular feature of human psychology. The young think they are immortal; the beautiful think they will turn heads forever; the rich think nothing can touch them. Fools all!

The reconnaissance pilot who personally laid the aerial photograph on Adolf Hitler’s desk was a repeat winner of the Iron Cross. He had risked his life to show the Führer the long rows of Russian tanks and artillery poised for battle on the Eastern Front. Hitler wrote one word across the face of the offending photograph: “Lies!”

We learn in 9:14 that these four angels have been bound at the River Euphrates waiting for this very moment. Since there are examples of demonic angels being bound (Rev. 20:2; Mark 3:27) and no examples of good angels being bound, there is little doubt the four angels in 9:14–15 are demonic. Indeed, another divine passive lets us know that God prepared them for this very moment.

As with many parts of Revelation, there is a historical background that would have been understood by the churches who originally received this book. Few peoples ever defeated the Romans during the earlier periods of the empire, but the Parthians, who lived east of the Euphrates River, were among them. Their arrow-firing cavalry had defeated Roman legions in 53 B.C. and again in A.D. 62, and the dread of a Parthian invasion hung over the Roman provinces in the east. These threats are the ancient fear from which John’s visions borrow.

Verse 16a is based on the Parthian cavalry, and if NET’s translation sounds a bit modern, try this more literal translation: “The number of mounted troops was twice ten thousand times ten thousand; I heard their number” (ESV). The demonic cavalry is heavily armed and highly mobile. By the time their authorized quota has been met, one-third of humanity will have been exterminated (9:18).

In light of the astounding number of mounted troops in John’s vision, Grant Osborne points out: “John adds, ‘I heard the number,’ pointing to prophetic activity on his part. . . . This is important in responding to those who say this is merely a literary work, John’s own creation; he claims he specifically ‘saw’ and ‘heard’ these things. He is not making up the details.”[1]

In ably summarizing Rev. 9:20-21, Robert Mounce says:

Nowhere will you find a more accurate picture of sinful humanity pressed to the extreme. One would think that the terrors of God’s wrath would bring rebels to their knees. Not so. Past the point of no return, they respond to greater punishment with increased rebellion. Such is sinful nature untouched and unmoved by the mercies of God.[2]

The relationship of denial to repentance

In theological terms, the opposite of denial is repentance. While repentance is often explained as changing your mind — the first-listed meaning in the standard lexicon for the Greek verb metanoe? — not a single verse of the NT is listed under that meaning! Instead, all the instances in the NT are listed under the secondary meaning “feel remorse, repent, be converted.”[3] This meaning puts greater emphasis on a change in our lives rather than just our ideas; the OT metaphor is to get off the wrong road and walk on the right road.

The people said: “The Lord has abandoned the land, and the Lord does not see!” (Ezek. 9:9)

The Lord said: “But as for me, my eye will not pity them nor will I spare them; I hereby repay them for what they have done.” (Ezek. 9:10).

Let those words fall on someone else!


Copyright © 2011 by Barry Applewhite. All rights reserved worldwide. Derived from material created for Christ Fellowship, McKinney, Texas. Used by permission.

[1] Grant R. Osborne, Revelation, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2002) 381.

[2] Robert H. Mounce, The Book of Revelation, Rev. Ed., The New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1997) 193.

[3] W. Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. 3d ed. Revised and edited by F. W. Danker, translated by W. F. Arndt, F. W. Gingrich and F. W. Danker (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 2000) metanoe?, repent, q.v.

Exposition of Revelation: Revelation 9:1–6

Revelation 9:1–6
Then the fifth angel blew his trumpet, and I saw a star that had fallen from the sky to the earth, and he was given the key to the shaft of the abyss. 2 He opened the shaft of the abyss and smoke rose out of it like smoke from a giant furnace. The sun and the air were darkened with smoke from the shaft. 3 Then out of the smoke came locusts onto the earth, and they were given power like that of the scorpions of the earth. 4 They were told not to damage the grass of the earth, or any green plant or tree, but only those people who did not have the seal of God on their forehead. 5 The locusts were not given permission to kill them, but only to torture them for five months, and their torture was like that of a scorpion when it stings a person. 6 In those days people will seek death, but will not be able to find it; they will long to die, but death will flee from them.(NET Bible)

The opening of the seventh seal

If there is one thing Revelation accomplishes, it is to make each of us feel insignificant in comparison to the awesome forces God unleashes on the world. The effect is to remove any sense of controlling our environment or future.

In truth, God is no less sovereign at this moment than during the visions John presents. But, for the moment, God is withholding his hand of judgment and power to allow time for repentance. Be careful not to let God’s forbearance lull you into believing you are in charge!

Previously I have said that the seventh seal encapsulates the increasingly severe judgments pictured by the seven trumpets and seven bowls. The escalating severity is building to a crescendo of violence. Many commentators have noted the numerous parallels between the plagues God brought on Egypt (Exod. 7–10), and the trumpet and bowl judgments.

Keener describes the surprising effect of Rev. 8:1: “After six thunderous seals of judgment (6:1–17) and a dramatic interlude in 7:1–17, the reader may be pardoned for a sense of anticlimax when reaching the final seal and hearing — silence.”[1]

After the seven angels are given trumpets (8:2), another angel offers burning incense along with “the prayers of all the saints” (8:3) before God. Then the same censer (a brass container or fire-pan) used for the incense is used to scoop coals of fire from the altar that are then hurled onto the earth. Osborne says: “The thrust of the first coals was to lift incense and prayers to God [8:3-4], but now the coals become the ‘fire’ of judgment [8:5]. . . . As we have seen, worship and judgment are interconnected throughout this book.”[2]

The first four trumpets affect one-third of the earth in a deadly way (8:6–12). But these hard blows are nothing to the coming three trumpets, as we are told in 8:13: “Woe! Woe! Woe to those who live on the earth because of the remaining sounds of the trumpets of the three angels who are about to blow them!”

Beale explains why the last three trumpets are worse than the first four: “The woes are worse than the initial four in that they directly strike the wicked.”[3] Even while judgment is falling, repentance is what God desires.

The identity and allegiance of the angel described in 9:1 is disputed. Though there are good arguments on each side, I am inclined to agree with the ESV Study Bible, which says, “The star fallen from heaven to earth is Satan, whom Jesus saw fall like lightning as a result of his disciples’ ministry (Luke 10:18).”[4] Note that “he was given the key to the shaft of the abyss” (9:1), which is a divine passive. Beale says, “Christ is ultimately the one who bestows this key, since he has overcome Satan and now ‘possesses the keys of death and Hades’ (1:18).”[5]

The abyss (NET, NIV, HCSB) is also translated as pit (ESV, KJV, NLT); in fact, it is the common Greek word phrear, meaning “well.” However, the word well is modified by the Greek noun abyssos, meaning “an immensely deep space.”[6] So, the “well of the abyss” has been rendered by NET as “the shaft of the abyss” (9:1). Of greater importance is what the Bible says about this place. In the NT it appears as a prison for evil spirits (Luke 8:31, 2 Pet. 2:4, Jude 6) where the beast (11:7) and Satan (20:1–3) are confined for a time.

The locusts of Revelation 9 are demonic spirits from the abyss whose mission is to torment the unbelieving peoples of the earth, but not the believers who have the seal of God (9:4).

There are many ironies in Revelation. These who are seeking death find that it runs away from them by God’s command!

All the important things in life come from one person

It is hard to imagine a long period of time when one’s highest aspiration would be to die! Of course, these who desire death are the ones who have killed every Christian they can find. Only God can grant them what they want.

“Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth.
For I am God, and there is no other.
By myself I have sworn; Truth has gone from my mouth, a word that will not be revoked:
Every knee will bow to me, every tongue will swear allegiance.”
(Isa. 45:2223, Christian Standard Bible).

Copyright © 2011 by Barry Applewhite. All rights reserved worldwide. Derived from material created for Christ Fellowship, McKinney, Texas. Used by permission.

[1] Craig S. Keener, Revelation, The NIV Application Commentary (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2000) 253.

[2] Grant R. Osborne, Revelation, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2002) 346-347.

[3] G.K. Beale, The Book of Revelation, The New International Greek Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1999) 489.

[4] ESV Study Bible, notes for Revelation 9:1.

[5] Beale, Revelation, 493.

[6] W. Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. 3d ed. Revised and edited by F. W. Danker, translated by W. F. Arndt, F. W. Gingrich and F. W. Danker (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 2000) abyssos, abyss, q.v.